Father-Son Campout was a blast. About 30 dudes altogether. Lots of littles, a few fewer middles and teens were downright scarce. But the middles like Max were just beside themselves, as it was relatively unstructured and allowed for a lot of poking things in the fire and chasing each other with sticks.
I was particularly stoked on arrival because even though things at work have been intense, my team is really coming together. Also because I HAD NO IDEA MONDAY WAS A HOLIDAY! How lame and pathetic is that? It's true. Getting to work, Readers Theater, Scouts and Church on time is about all I can handle so MMSAK (My Main Sho'ty A-Kizzle) does all the supplementary scheduling. So this EXTRA DAY is a complete bonus. If I'd KNOWN about it, I would have scheduled this that or the other important responsible thing to happen. But since I didn't, I'm flirting with just reading all day or something decadent like that.
Anyway, the only fart in the Father-Son Campout spacesuit was the bugs. But with some mild skin-friendly-stink-free-non-oily bug repellent ("Now: Totally Ineffective!!!") and the cooler temps when the sun went down -- bugs retreated to the evil hell that bore them hence. Oh, that and the fact that for some reason I didn't sleep one frazzlin' WINK all night. That blew. But did I tell you about my MONDAY? The HOLIDAY? I'm good.
There were balls thrown and frisbees frizzed and silly campfire songs sung (as a po' city kid, it's my first time for every one of them) and what-should-be-illegal amounts of smores consumed. Boys bonded with boys, dads bonded with dads. Lifelong scoutmen cooked phenomenal breakfasts using dutch ovens and then normal dads like me ate way too much of it. 3 of my 4 Lighting Patrol 11-year olds boy scouts were there so we had a 5-mile hike and identified 10 different (or evidence of 10 different) types of native flora and fauna. Here are Jacob, Max and Joe. . .
. . . as we reached the dam and they identified Canada geese & goslings. Other Dad and I tried to convince them that Canada geese quacked like Bob & Doug McKenzie:
"Hey, Quack y'know"
Dad humor. Lost on the young. Yes, my son has been given The Nathaniel Ultimatum: "Either get a haircut or learn to play guitar". Hopefully he'll get shorn soon, it's just too hot to be so shaggy in PA.
On the way home, the truck was sloppily packed to the gills with camping gear. We took a corner too fast with Max's window open and inadvertently peppered the Pennsylvania countryside with children's poetry papers from Readers Theater class. Max and I were so tired from the camping, it was a little surreal as we picked poetry off of the twisty backroad. Then a tractor tilled along beside us, farmer staring, us thinking he'd REALLY stare if he could read what we had spread all over the road. It was straight out of a David Lynch film.
AK was in full gardening mode when we got back and finally got the 3rd raised bed going at Gramma's house. I took a nap. Then AK and I rememebered that we'd told Elias Peachey the charming Amish uphostery guy we'd pick up The Green Couch today. Dazed from naps and too much gardening, we drove out to Belleville with every motorcycle owner in Centre County (first REALLY perfect Spring day this year. . . ). We were surprised (not really, but it took 5 months to get a slot in Elias' schedule. . . ) to find our SOLITARY yet totally redeeming Freecycle Treasure Couch completely overhauled by a true craftsman. And for the paltry pittance of $59.00. Reinforced, reassembled, ready for our bouncy boys and weighing twice what it did when we droppped it off ("built with CARDboard. . . . " mumbled Elias "Replaced the arms with 2x4s. . .").
Amish in the backyard, an R1 university in the front. Appalatian landscapes, dramatic weather, and East Coast diverisity that rivals my precious Bay Area. I love it here.
I suck. Unless you think it's cool to alienate your few remaining readers. If that's the case, then take notes because I'm on fizz-to-tha'-IZZire. And I think you're smellin' what I'm cookin'. Or you're picking up what I'm putting down. Or we're grokking. I just found a great name for an early 90's speed metal band: Groksuck. I know, I'm too young to know what grokking is. What? So are you? Ok then.
Summer is getting ready to completely steamroll the Hults'. It's a bit of an ambush, since our Spring has been so soggy and we haven't hardly suspected that lurking right around the calendar's corner is SUMMER. I'm now the Almost All Scoutmaster instead of the 11-year-old Assistant Scoutguy, so I'll have 2-4 more scouts for the Summer. Work is getting totally intense (once again, I'm in a very seasonal business). School is winding down. Piano is winding down a little. The kids are winding UP!
Tomorrow is our Father/Son Campout, which is designed to be totally non-churchy and relaxing. But I need to seize the opportunity that most of the scouts will be there and cross some campingthings off of their to-do lists. I'm looking forward to it and hope to take nice photos to share. But at the rate I'm getting us packed for it. . . well . . . I'd be the last guy you'd promote to Scoutmaster. What's the Scout Motto?
"Nap, eat, nap. Repeat as necessary"
Damn I know this one. Oh yeeeeeah. . .
Gotcha. I'm on it. I am THE right guy for the job. Kids won't know what hit 'em.
Meanwhile, this week the BYU Chamber Orchestra came around to Penn State. They had a concert Tuesday night that was lightly attended but TOTALLY awesome. Rossini, Beethoven and some other famous dead German guys' music. Ben and Milo did a great job of controlling their squiggle impulse and Max was exposed to something other than Suzuki, Billy Joel and classic funk/hip-hop. They stayed in the area for a couple of days, so local families could host a pair of students if they wanted. AK signed us up. So Sunday and Monday were cleaning-fests, and we had bed & breakfast guests for two nights. Tony is from Venezuela and Colin is from Pittsburgh. Colin is a percussionist in the orchestra and gave Max his own personal lesson. He's also quite the rogue young LDS rockstar and we could barely extract him from the gaggle of girls he'd aquired after the fireside talk. But all the boys had a blast with our visitors and Max got to see some of what youth activities look like.
I've learned much lately about nematodes. However, none of it is as interesting as the word sounds. So damn the scholarly definition, just go to work this week and call someone a nematode. See what happens. If they get offended (they may have to look it up to do so. . . ) just remind them that nematodes cost $100 for a few tablespoons and they are VERY beneficial to lawns full of grubs.
Today was Starve'n Talk day at church. These talks are always the very best. Which leads me to believe that hungry people give better talks. But I am SO not good at fasting. I get spacey and cranky. Now I've eaten 2 Daddy Sandwiches but I'm still spacey and cranky. So maybe it's allergies? Whatever. Don't feed the Daddy. He bites.
I don't have any photos to share. So I'm going to share another one of Max's recital pieces. Its the one that (despite a flub there in the middle, I think. . . ) shows his "lyrical style".
Speaking of lyrics, he joined the choir today at church and is by a few years the youngest member. Despite our best efforts, we were WAY early for church last week. It was as though the clock was slowing down just so we'd be way early. We found out why shortly after, it was so that Max could see/hear the choir rehearsing. They are doing a very spirited multi-hamony 4th of July sort of song and it sounded great. Still high, I think, from his pirate play, he yearned to be up on stage. He had questions, we referred them to the choir director, and he was told there was no minimum age he need only show up 45 minutes early for church! So today he was right up there belting it out, albeit with very poor posture. Remind me to explain to him how standing up straight allows one to breathe better, and how singing first and foremost requires breathing.
Pupp Daddy Dog spends his days working as an entrepeneur and as a Dad. He is passionately in love with/obsessively neurotic about his family. Imagine Kicking Bird mixed with Albert Brooks. Oh, and throw in some Notorious B.I.G.
Alaska is the frustrated but caring cat at the center of our canine universe. All of us alternately worship, rely on and ceaselessly whine to her. Her need to control everything is confounded by the fact that she really pretty much does control everything, so in her few free moments, she knits and searches desperately for things to fuss about.
Max is smart and handsome, with a big heart. He is not only growing like a weed, but he has the attention span and concentration abilities of a weed. Despite my best efforts, AK keeps feeding him and he keeps growing. Our plan is to keep him so busy with school, sports & the arts that he won't notice he's a teenager and is supposed to hate us. T minus 2.5 years to teen launch, so far so good.
Ben and Milo are phenomenal little creatures who remind us minute-by-minute not only how little control we have in this world, but why we should cease our controlling efforts and just laugh at all of God's jokes. Lately, Milo likes to dance and is good on the piano. Ben likes to mimic Max and enjoys manipulating adults and anyone else who has no idea how quietly brilliant he is. Both of them would love your full and complete attention. Really, stop reading silly blogs and join the fan club now. Ok? Ok.